Does the very name “Tom Brady” still send shivers of fear down the spines of NFL defenders, coaches and fans? Well … probably.
Brady, a youthful 43 years old, has six Super Bowl rings and could just contend for a seventh in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3). He’ll be behind center for the feature Monday Night Football contest tonight against the Los Angeles Rams (6-3).
There are several motivations for the Rams. They are in what’s arguably the toughest division in the NFL, sharing the West with the Seattle Seahawks (7-3) and Arizona Cardinals (6-4), not to mention a still-dangerous San Francisco 49er (4-6) team. A loss tonight would mean sliding one game back of the Seahawks and weaken their hold on a wild card slot.
Brady was the QB who beat them 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII in 2019 when Tom was still with the New England Patriots. Does he still have the touch he had back in Foxboro? So far in 2020 with Tampa Bay, he’s thrown for 2,739 yards and 23 touchdowns with seveninterceptions. He stumbled against New Orleans on Nov. 8, being intercepted three times, but roared back on Nov. 15 again Carolina, passing for three scores and 341 yards,
So, on balance, it seems like he does have enough of the “old” Tom to give the Rams fits, but here’s what Brady says about looking backward, which might apply to the Rams as well.
“I can’t do anything with what’s happened in the past,” he said. “I have to just go forward with the most awareness I can going forward and trying to be the best I can be for our team.”
The Rams will counter with quarterback Jared Goff, who has been up and down this season. So far, he’s passed for 2,447 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions.
POSTSCRIPT: The Rams prevailed, 27-24. Jared Goff passed for 376 yards and three TDs. Tom Brady had 216 yards passing and two scores.
THE NFL: It had to happen. The snake-bit Los Angeles Chargers finally found a team they could beat, but it wasn’t easy. LAC (now 3-7) built a 24-6 halftime lead but had to hang on to post a 34-28 win over the winless New York Jets(0-10) at SoFi Stadium on Saturday.
Keenan Allen caught 16 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown for the home team. Rookie quarterback Justin Hebert completed 37 of 46 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. The Bolts thereby keep their slim playoff hopes alive, but take on a tough Buffalo Bills (7-3) team next Sunday in another must-win contest.
Around the league, there were some exciting contests that almost made you forget there were few or zero fans in the stands. Patrick Mahomes worked some of his last-second magic in throwing the winning pass with 28 seconds to go as the Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) bested the Las Vegas Raiders 35-31.
Leading 28-14 at halftime, the Green Bay Packers’ (7-3) offense stalled after halftime and suffered a 34-31 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts (7-3) in a battle of division leaders.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It was another split decision for local major college football teams. UCLA rallied to make it close against Oregon on Saturday, but lost 38-35. The brightest spot was Chase Griffin, the second-string Bruin quarterback who burnished his resume for the top spot by passing for 195 yards and one touchdown.
He did, however, get intercepted twice, one of the picks going for 58 yards and a touchdown. Also showing good promise was Demetric Felton, who rushed for 167 yards and one TD.
The Bruins were their own worst enemy, however, turning the ball over four times, all of which led to Duck scores. But considering they were playing the nation’s number 11 team on the road – albeit in an empty stadium – it wasn’t a bad showing for a Chip Kelly program, that hasn’t had many good days over three seasons.
UCLA (1-2) will be next in action this Saturday against Arizona (0-2).
USC, on the other hand, didn’t have to settle for a moral victory. The Trojans (3-0) were the beneficiaries of five turnovers against Utah in Salt Lake City, winning 33-17. Kedon Slovis passed for 264 yards and two touchdowns for the cardinal and gold. He was intercepted twice and fumbled once in a play that saw the loose ball returned for a Utah score.
The Trojans are next in action Saturday hosting Colorado (2-0) in a battle for first place in the Pac-12 South.
Turning to the national picture, Alabama (7-0) is the unanimous first place pick in the AP Top 25, followed by Notre Dame (8-0), Ohio State (4-0) and Clemson (7-1). Oregon (3-0) is the top-rated Pac-12 team at ninth place, and USC (3-0) is 19th.
Sports Monday replaces “Wild World of Sports” as a weekly feature.